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Mantua Classics HO Locomotives/Engines

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Mantua Classics HO Locomotives/Engines
Posted by Shock Control on Friday, November 19, 2021 11:15 AM

Can anyone tell me about Mantua Classics engines, either the blue box era or the ornate red box era?  Are these reasonably decent engines for the price?  Are they closer to old Mantua engines, the ones that had mostly if not all metal parts, or had Tyco-ness crept into the manufacturing process, resulting in the use of cheap plastics?  Or did they fall someplace on the spectrum between old metal Mantua and cheap plastic Tyco?

Thanks in advance.

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, November 19, 2021 2:20 PM

I bought a 4-6-2 a few years ago under that label. Metal boiler, plastic tender. Very much in the Mantua tradition. Runs smoothly and a decent puller. I added a few details and ended up repainting the boiler. The connector between the tender and the loco created problems at some point - I ended up hardwiring it. Not sure if this was a common problem or not. I don't run it very often - since then, I bought some Bachman engines that are better detailed. 

Simon

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 19, 2021 4:25 PM

Shock Control
...Are they closer to old Mantua engines, the ones that had mostly if not all metal parts, or had Tyco-ness crept into the manufacturing process, resulting in the use of cheap plastics? Or did they fall someplace on the spectrum between old metal Mantua and cheap plastic Tyco?

I'd never heard of Mantua Classics, but do have an all-metal Tyco 0-6-0T, with its original Tyco box.  I got it in the early-to-mid '50s, but seldom use it nowadays.

Wayne

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:19 PM

Shock Control
Can anyone tell me about Mantua Classics engines

I bought a Mantua Classics mikado a few years ago. I did not run it much, but I remember that it ran fine.

Since I bought it, I have added three Oriental Powerhouse and two Sunset Brass USRA mikados. I sold the Mantua Classics model a few years ago.

I had no problems with it. It sure ran better than a tender-driven Tyco.

Maybe this helps.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:30 PM

I have a Mantua 2-6-6-2 tank locomotive I like just fine. For the era it was made it is a good buy, well enough detailed and a solid performer. The old style left side rea driver/ right side front driver power pick up is not as reliable as more modern all driver plus tender pickup though.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:43 PM

Mine picks up power just fine and has no operational issues. Mine has a tender, is yours the tank version maybe?

Mine also does not say "Mantua Classics" on the box, just Mantua.

The only problem with mine was zinc-pest on the lead truck. It was easy to make a new one from 0.030" sheet brass.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:46 PM

Mine stalls on unpowered frogs on Atlas Code 83 curved and wye turnouts. Powering the frogs fixes that. 

Mine is the tank version.

Mine is in a red Mantua box as far as I recall, not sure what age it is.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:49 PM

It sounds to me like you have subtle vertical elevation changes on your rail. Carefully and correctly laying the track prevents this issue.

Are you using the right tools?

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by dennis461 on Friday, November 19, 2021 6:33 PM

Mantuas are easily upgraded can motor and/or DCC.

Mantua 2-8-2

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 19, 2021 7:07 PM

First off, in any given year starting in 1957 until 1970, there was no diffeence between the TYCO product and the Mantua product. They came out of the same factory with the same parts. 

The difference was RTR vs kit - but Mantua later droped the Mantua name and sold all the products under the TYCO name.

THEN THEY SOLD THE COMPANY to Consolidated Foods, the kits went away, and the product went down hill. And the TYCO brand name was used on all kinds of hobby/toy products.

In 1977 the original owners, the Tyler family, bought the model train portion  company and tooling back and reintroduced the original products (with some eventual upgrades) again under the Mantua name - that is were the Mantua Classics come in.

So "cheap TYCO" only applies to stuff made from 1970 to 1977.......

In 2001 it was sold to Model Power and in 2014 Model Power and all the Mantua assets were sold to Model Rectifier Corp and in 2018 they sold the Mantua assets to LIONEL.

LIONEL has released a number of items with very little changes to the product - 64 years afters its original introduction.......

Plastic - yes, long before originally selling the company, some parts of the locos changed from metal to plastic - cabs, pilots, tender shells, etc. This did not really change the overall "quality" of the product.

At various times new products were developed that actually used much of the existing tooling with just a few changes or different parts, so there are lot of variations in 64 years.

They can be made to run very well, but as offered, even today from LIONEL, detail is crude and basic.

Back in the day they were popular starting points for kit bashing and super detailing.

As a young modeler in the late 60's, I built a number of the kits, and inherited several my father had built.

Not a product I have any interest in today, but as a young man doing train repairs in a local hobby shop, and as a young modeler in that era, I had my hands in quite a few of them.

One other note, the all plastic, tender drive, "TYCO" stuff was developed by Consolidated Foods personal, and that tooling remained with that company when the Tyler's bought the original company back in 1977. 

Facts are always helpful when discussing history.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by stevetx on Friday, November 19, 2021 7:53 PM

Shock Control,

Sheldon has given you the best answer amongst all you have received.  There is quite a story behind the Mantua locos including metal, plastic, details, motors, gear boxes, dates, company owners, and branding like Classics, Mark II, & Presidents. If you are really interested, all the stories are on the Internet in places like HOSeeker's documentation section. There are several company history sites too.  Google for that stuff and you will find the answers you need - The Mantua Classics are interesting.

Steve G.

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Posted by Shock Control on Friday, November 19, 2021 9:22 PM

stevetx

Shock Control,

Sheldon has given you the best answer amongst all you have received.  There is quite a story behind the Mantua locos including metal, plastic, details, motors, gear boxes, dates, company owners, and branding like Classics, Mark II, & Presidents. If you are really interested, all the stories are on the Internet in places like HOSeeker's documentation section. There are several company history sites too.  Google for that stuff and you will find the answers you need - The Mantua Classics are interesting.

Steve G.

But I am asking specifically about the Mantua Classics line that came in the ornate red box.  These are much later models, long after Tyco had gone its own way, and I'm wondering how similar to or different from the old Mantual engines.  

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 19, 2021 10:08 PM

Shock Control

 

 
stevetx

Shock Control,

Sheldon has given you the best answer amongst all you have received.  There is quite a story behind the Mantua locos including metal, plastic, details, motors, gear boxes, dates, company owners, and branding like Classics, Mark II, & Presidents. If you are really interested, all the stories are on the Internet in places like HOSeeker's documentation section. There are several company history sites too.  Google for that stuff and you will find the answers you need - The Mantua Classics are interesting.

Steve G.

 

 

But I am asking specifically about the Mantua Classics line that came in the ornate red box.  These are much later models, long after Tyco had gone its own way, and I'm wondering how similar to or different from the old Mantual engines.  

 

Did you read what I posted?

The Mantua Classics in the red boxes are just like the original 60's versions with the following up grades:

Can motors, improved wiring.

Some small detail improvements, ususally not really correct.

Wider selection of loco types created mostly by mixing and matching existing parts.

Some new tooling, using the same design theory as the original designs.

A Mantua Classics Pacific or Mikado is basically the same frame, drivers, boilers as were used in the 60's.

The Pacific boiler was put on the Mikado drive to create a light Mikado. The original Mikado also remained and was partly based on the DT&I 800 Class heavy Mikados.

These are just a few examples.

In terms of quality and out of the box performance, the red box Classics are in many ways the highest quality the line ever achieved. 

But please loose the idea that TYCO is all junk. The original owners created and switched over to the TYCO name, with no change in quality, 13 years before Consolidated Foods bought it and used it to market cheap toys. So a 1965 "TYCO" loco is EXACTLY the same as any pre 1970 product in a Mantua box, and is the same or very similar to post 1977 products in Mantua boxes.

NO major redesign was ever done to these products. Most parts interchange no matter when they were made.

Specific Consolidated Foods TYCO items like the tender drive "Chattanooga Choo Choo" do not share ANY parts or design with the products orginally made by the original company and those products remained property of Consolidated Foods when the original product line was sold back to the Tyler family.

BUT, old or new, each individual loco had good points and bad points, some shared lots of parts with other models, some only shared a few parts.

If you have a SPECIFIC question about a specific model (Pacific, Mikado, 10 wheeler, big 6, etc) let me know.

With any model train company, assuming that all their products are of identical "quality" would be a mistake.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, November 20, 2021 1:06 AM

I have a Mantua Classics 2-6-6-2T.  The original Mantua model for this one came around in the early 80's or so and had a plastic shell from the beginning, so this one also has a plastic body since they simply re-used the old tooling.  Any models that were only made from metal continued to be made from metal.  The can motor and flywheel combined with Mantua's quality gearing make it a smooth and quiet runner.

The last I heard for the Mantua line is that Lionel bought it for improving their own HO products, but apparently has no plans to actually bring any of the classic models back out.

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 8:06 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
  

Did you read what I posted?

The Mantua Classics in the red boxes are just like the original 60's versions with the following up grades:

Can motors, improved wiring.

Some small detail improvements, ususally not really correct.

Wider selection of loco types created mostly by mixing and matching existing parts.

Some new tooling, using the same design theory as the original designs.

A Mantua Classics Pacific or Mikado is basically the same frame, drivers, boilers as were used in the 60's.

The Pacific boiler was put on the Mikado drive to create a light Mikado. The original Mikado also remained and was partly based on the DT&I 800 Class heavy Mikados.

These are just a few examples.

In terms of quality and out of the box performance, the red box Classics are in many ways the highest quality the line ever achieved. 

But please loose the idea that TYCO is all junk. The original owners created and switched over to the TYCO name, with no change in quality, 13 years before Consolidated Foods bought it and used it to market cheap toys. So a 1965 "TYCO" loco is EXACTLY the same as any pre 1970 product in a Mantua box, and is the same or very similar to post 1977 products in Mantua boxes.

NO major redesign was ever done to these products. Most parts interchange no matter when they were made.

Specific Consolidated Foods TYCO items like the tender drive "Chattanooga Choo Choo" do not share ANY parts or design with the products orginally made by the original company and those products remained property of Consolidated Foods when the original product line was sold back to the Tyler family.

BUT, old or new, each individual loco had good points and bad points, some shared lots of parts with other models, some only shared a few parts.

If you have a SPECIFIC question about a specific model (Pacific, Mikado, 10 wheeler, big 6, etc) let me know.

With any model train company, assuming that all their products are of identical "quality" would be a mistake.

Sheldon 

 

 

Thank you! Yes

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 8:28 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

But please lose the idea that TYCO is all junk. The original owners created and switched over to the TYCO name, with no change in quality, 13 years before Consolidated Foods bought it and used it to market cheap toys. So a 1965 "TYCO" loco is EXACTLY the same as any pre 1970 product in a Mantua box, and is the same or very similar to post 1977 products in Mantua boxes. 

Yes, I realize that the early Tyco lines were essentially RTR versions of Mantua kits.

However, very early on, Tyco began to cut corners in subtle ways with their rolling stock.

My impetus for asking this question is that I have picked up some Mantua Classics rolling stock over the years, and they are not of the same quality as the postwar era Mantua rolling stock.  I did not know the degree to which the Mantua Classics locomotives followed this pattern.  But you have answered my question in great detail.  Many thanks!

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, November 20, 2021 9:33 AM

SeeYou190

It sounds to me like you have subtle vertical elevation changes on your rail. Carefully and correctly laying the track prevents this issue.

Are you using the right tools?

-Kevin

 

Funny you should mention that. Those Atlas metal frog turnouts have bumpy frogs. A machinists file is a good tool to use to fix that. Buying Peco turnouts instead is a lot less work. No more Atlas for me, these new Walthers turnouts are much better made. 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 20, 2021 9:52 AM

Shock Control

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

But please lose the idea that TYCO is all junk. The original owners created and switched over to the TYCO name, with no change in quality, 13 years before Consolidated Foods bought it and used it to market cheap toys. So a 1965 "TYCO" loco is EXACTLY the same as any pre 1970 product in a Mantua box, and is the same or very similar to post 1977 products in Mantua boxes. 

 

 

Yes, I realize that the early Tyco lines were essentially RTR versions of Mantua kits.

However, very early on, Tyco began to cut corners in subtle ways with their rolling stock.

My impetus for asking this question is that I have picked up some Mantua Classics rolling stock over the years, and they are not of the same quality as the postwar era Mantua rolling stock.  I did not know the degree to which the Mantua Classics locomotives followed this pattern.  But you have answered my question in great detail.  Many thanks!

 

I would be interested to understand what you see as "not the same quality"? These were never highly detailed or highly accurate models, and personally, I don't see the introduction of plastic parts as a decline in quality.

While I am very familiar with these products because of my exposure to the hobby and industry for my whole life since childhood, I do not have any examples on my layout. Even at a young age I was not interested in the "toy" nature of these products, quality or not, having truck mounted couplers, poor rolling qualities even back in the day, and crude clunky detail.

Especially the rolling stock, they are what they are, "train set" trains, entry level for children.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, November 20, 2021 9:59 AM

My Mantua Classic 2-6-6-2 locomotive dates from 2008 according to the included parts diagram sheet. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:00 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I would be interested to understand what you see as "not the same quality"? These were never highly detailed or highly accurate models.

Yes, now that the topic switched to freight cars, I am also curious.

Mantua freight cars were never really good models, so I am interested in what was considered to be a decline.

I think I have one "Mantua Heavy" stashed somewhere. I seem to remember taking it out of the box, not being real impressed, and putting it away for "later".

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:25 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I would be interested to understand what you see as "not the same quality"? These were never highly detailed or highly accurate models, and personally, I don't see the introduction of plastic parts as a decline in quality.

While I am very familiar with these products because of my exposure to the hobby and industry for my whole life since childhood, I do not have any examples on my layout. Even at a young age I was not interested in the "toy" nature of these products, quality or not, having truck mounted couplers, poor rolling qualities even back in the day, and crude clunky detail.

Especially the rolling stock, they are what they are, "train set" trains, entry level for children.

Sheldon

Well, it was pretty common to see Mantua and Athearn rolling stock on layouts at the time.  I wouldn't consider them "toys" in the way that I would consider the Tyco Purina box car to be a "toy."

Respectfully, I do feel that the switch from metal to plastic represented a decline in quality, both in terms of weight of the cars and detail.  

In terms of older Mantua rolling stock vs. the Classic line, the classics have plastic bases and plastic trucks.  In the case of the gondola, you cannot even place the Mantual Classic body onto the underframe of an older model.

The Mantua Classic clearance check car has plastic trucks, and includes only two of the underside wire brace rods instead of four.  

My point is that, given the name of the Mantua Classics line, one might have assumed that these were either accurate repros of the old cars, or an upgrade.  Of the cars I've seen, they were cheaper.  

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:30 AM

I was gifted a Mantua (Blue Box) 4-6-2 a few years back. 

While it runs like a champ, the current draw is just a bit high (IMO) to convert to DCC. (Stall current maxed at 1.02, most decoders are rated at 1.00. While I have never had a loco stall at maxed amps, I don't want to risk it.)

I have not tried to replace the magnet on the motor back, as I feel that will drop it further below the 1.00 amp stall current. It's awaiting my 'round to it' time.

Ricky W.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 20, 2021 11:01 AM

Shock Control
Respectfully, I do feel that the switch from metal to plastic represented a decline in quality, both in terms of weight of the cars and detail.

OK, since we know how you are judging the models, then pretty much everything has gone down in quality by this standard.

I have an old Athearn all-metal kit, and it is no where near as nice a model as a blue box all plastic boxcar. That, of course, is just my opinion.

I don't know of anyone manufacturing metal scale models any longer, except for the very few brass models still getting made. The Hybrid BLI locomotives might be as close as you can get, but opinions on them vary widely.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 20, 2021 11:29 AM

Shock Control

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I would be interested to understand what you see as "not the same quality"? These were never highly detailed or highly accurate models, and personally, I don't see the introduction of plastic parts as a decline in quality.

While I am very familiar with these products because of my exposure to the hobby and industry for my whole life since childhood, I do not have any examples on my layout. Even at a young age I was not interested in the "toy" nature of these products, quality or not, having truck mounted couplers, poor rolling qualities even back in the day, and crude clunky detail.

Especially the rolling stock, they are what they are, "train set" trains, entry level for children.

Sheldon

 

 

Well, it was pretty common to see Mantua and Athearn rolling stock on layouts at the time.  I wouldn't consider them "toys" in the way that I would consider the Tyco Purina box car to be a "toy."

Respectfully, I do feel that the switch from metal to plastic represented a decline in quality, both in terms of weight of the cars and detail.  

In terms of older Mantua rolling stock vs. the Classic line, the classics have plastic bases and plastic trucks.  In the case of the gondola, you cannot even place the Mantual Classic body onto the underframe of an older model.

The Mantua Classic clearance check car has plastic trucks, and includes only two of the underside wire brace rods instead of four.  

My point is that, given the name of the Mantua Classics line, one might have assumed that these were either accurate repros of the old cars, or an upgrade.  Of the cars I've seen, they were cheaper.  

 

So here is the problem.

There is the product that Mantua produced from 1977 to 2000, and then there is the product that Model Power produced from 2001 to 2014.

And on that point you are likely correct, the Mantua rolling stock produced under Model Power ownership is not all based on the original Mantua tooling except in general appearance.

Model power sent all production to China, to a vendor they already used, he used the Mantua tooling for the locos, but not for all the rolling stock.

Again, like Kevin says, there is a big difference in accuracy and detail between Athearn Blue Box (really yellow boxes first) and even the best rolling stock items from Mantua.

But Mantua offered 19th Century stuff, and that was a strong group for them.

I think I have one or two unbuilt pieces of Mantua from way back, late 50's.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 12:13 PM

SeeYou190

 I don't know of anyone manufacturing metal scale models any longer, except for the very few brass models still getting made. The Hybrid BLI locomotives might be as close as you can get, but opinions on them vary widely. 

I don't have any all-metal rolling stock from any era of production.  The Mantua and Athearn that I generally like, especially at good prices, have plastic bodies and metal underframes/trucks.  

I have no issue with plastic if it looks as good or better than metal.  The plastic trucks that I've had look good when they are painted a flat color, but out of the box, they don't look as good as the older metal trucks.

Hence, my complaints about the Mantua Classics rolling stock.

But we are getting off topic.  I was really asking about the Mantua Classics engines, and Sheldon gave me a very detailed response.  Yes

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, November 20, 2021 12:15 PM

ricktrains4824

I have not tried to replace the magnet on the motor back, as I feel that will drop it further below the 1.00 amp stall current. It's awaiting my 'round to it' time.

The magnet actually won't change the stall current, since this is based fully on the armature's windings.  It will make it more efficient when running though!  The tender should also give you plenty of room for a stronger decoder when converting to DCC.

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 12:19 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Again, like Kevin says, there is a big difference in accuracy and detail between Athearn Blue Box (really yellow boxes first) and even the best rolling stock items from Mantua. 

I generally agree, especially about the yellow box, but when I see a mix of yellow-box Athearn and older Mantua together on a layout, I don't notice a huge difference, especially at a distance. 

So your next logical question may be, if I am judging these at a distance, what is wrong with plastic trucks, and if you asked me that question, I might reply, "Good point."  Big Smile

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 20, 2021 9:37 PM

I am very confused here.

If you want the best looking freight cars, well, they are all plastic, period. Even brass freight cars do not compare to plastic.

The only area where metal is better is durability. I buy brass tank cars because I am tired of breaking all the details off of plastic models of tank cars.

My best covered hopper, on all points, is easily my Kadee PS-2. The next two best are a pair of Eastern Car Works covered hoppers that I reworked with wire grabs and Tichy brake parts. Then would come all my brass covered hoppers, and finally the one resin kit if one I tried to build. It looks OK, but it is not straight.

This same holds true for all other types fo freight cars.

Old Mantua, Tyco, Athearn, Roundhouse, whether metal or plastic, just do not hold up.

Kadee covered hopper:

Funaro & Camerlengo resin covered hopper:

Brass covered hopper:

Athearn plastic covered hopper:

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Shock Control on Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:42 PM

SeeYou190
I am very confused here.

If you want the best looking freight cars, well, they are all plastic, period. Even brass freight cars do not compare to plastic.

Well, I'm not convinced that there are contemporary models of the prototypes I'm seeking. 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 22, 2021 9:30 AM

With Mantua, there's a difference in the engines based on when they were introduced. The 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 with die-cast metal body remained pretty much the same over the years with a few changes, like (as noted earlier) some parts changing to plastic; also, all Mantua engines switched to using can motors about 1989-90. Mantua towards the end of it's run did create a newer metal body for those engines that was closer to a USRA boiler, but didn't have any more detail than the earlier one.

Starting I think in the 1980's, Mantua introduced several new engines, like the 4-4-2 and 2-6-6-2, that had can motors and plastic boilers from the start. These later-designed engines tend to be more realistic in appearance than the old metal-boiler engines.

Stix

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